We were delighted to back in person for our Jewish Cultural Sunday School Session on March 13 which included our first full-out, in person Purim Carnival in there years!

During this month’s class time, Song Teacher Sarah Berman Young visited each group, singing together again in person!   We also welcomed back Ian Zukor, a JCSS alumnus and our former classroom aide, who helped in our Littles Group and during the carnival.  Ian’s B’Mitzvah was August 2015!

Next month’s JCSS class is just a week before the Or Emet Passover Seder, or any other Seder you may attend.  Don’t miss having your children be there to practice the Four Questions with Song Teacher Sarah and other Passover songs.

Here’s the lowdown on what happened in each classroom:

The Littles Group – Age 3 -Kindergarten, teacher Amy Leavitt

Happy Purim! We had a great time learning about Purim, as well as meeting 3 new friends! Welcome Frieda, Grant and Quasi! We read Sammy Spider’s First Purim, and had a visit from Sarah where we learned the story of Purim and sang about Haman’s 3 cornered hat. We made paper plate hamantaschen and masks, played Purim Bingo, and read The Better Than Best Purim by Naomi Howland (thanks to Rebekah for sharing it!). It was great seeing all of you participating and having fun at the Purim carnival after class.


The Middles Group – grades 1-2, teacher Colline Roland

Today we made a woven Mishlaoch Manot! We started with our basket, as we didn’t know how long it would take and it ended up taking most of the time! Then we read a Purim book where we learned the story of the Jewish people. At the end, we also had a great discussion about who the real hero of the story was. Esther is usually considered to be the hero in the story, but we talked about how it might be Mordecai!  Who would you choose?

The Juniors Group – grades 3-5, teacher Renee Dorman

In March the Juniors group continued learning our family histories and looked at photos of the Lower East Side. We also read the Megillah and discussed the choices characters make in the story. We played alef-bet bingo before heading to the Purim carnival.

Lower East Side of New York, 1910


The B’Mitzvah Prep Group, grades 6-7, teacher Eva Cohen

The B Mitzvah Prep class spent their lesson thinking critically about Torah law and helping out with the Purim carnival. Students learned about kosher laws and their description in Torah source texts, and then they played the “Kosher or Treyf” game in teams, identifying which foods and animals in pictures are “kosher” and which are “treyf” (Yiddish for non-kosher) according to the traditional dietary laws.
We discussed scholarly theories about why these laws developed, including as a way of enforcing Jewish “holiness” and separation from other ethnic groups, as an expression of cultural/religious values sanctifying life, and as a reflection of cultural discomfort with animals that don’t fit into binary categories.
After a short Purim-themed music and Hebrew lesson with Sarah, the class transitioned to looking at laws from Exodus and Leviticus and from the ~a thousand years older Hammurabi’s Code. Students contrasted how the “eye for an eye” standard of punishment is imposed unequally in the Code, reinforcing class hierarchies, while it is imposed more equally in the Torah.
We rounded out the morning with a snack break, and then headed over to the Purim carnival. Students had a great time running carnival games and enjoying the holiday energy!
A segment of the Code of Hammurabi

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